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The LongLocks Philosophy

Jewelry Artist Susan Maxwell Schmidt I am often asked how LongLocks got started and why I dedicate so much time to doing what I do. I don't think there is a single answer to either of those questions but I thought I might try to explain a bit of my own history, the philosophy behind LongLocks HairSticks and how I see LongLocks from my own perspective.

LongLocks isn't as much a business as it is an obsession. My obsession started in childhood, as most obsessions worth their salt do.

I wanted long hair so badly it was all I ever thought of. I remember long hours spent in front of the mirror wishing for a Marlo Thomas1 flip or the flowing hip-length locks my brother's girlfriend sported. I had every long hair doll in existence from Crissy to Dawn and her friends (though for some reason I pulled all the hair out of my favorite baby doll of all time, "Tumbelina"... I'm sure there's a deep psychological issue there somewhere). I had fake ponytails that were given to me by some understanding relative that I played with so much they resembled electrocuted squirrels by the time I lost track of them.
Unfortunately, the sad reality was that my mother hated combing the knots out of my hair and insisted on keeping it in a "pixie cut." "You look just like Twiggy2," she'd say to me. Let it be known that I've never even remotely resembled Twiggy a single day of my life by any stretch of even the wildest imagination.3

My obsession continued through the '70s as my hair was finally under my own control. Unfortunately, having control to me meant doing anything and everything to it. While I now lusted after the long flowing hair that adorned the model on the box of "Long and Silky" hair conditioner it wasn't going to happen because it was fried from my many experiments with hair color and basic lack of understanding about how hair needed to be treated to keep it in good shape. It wasn't entirely my fault my hair was in such bad condition, however; back then every fashion magazine4 in the world still suggested you indulge in a hundred strokes a day and every red-blooded teenage girl in America simply had to use Sun-In for that sun-drenched seventies look!
Fast forward to the year 1999. I'm 39 years old, my hair is in gorgeous condition all the way down to my butt (never mind that I missed out on having long hair during all those single years when I really could have used such a weapon to my advantage), and I have turned my obsession with long hair into a killer collection of hair jewelry... including tons of hair sticks. When the Internet took off as a consumer's paradise, I tried to use it with very limited success to find more hair sticks to add to my collection that were a bit more upscale than that which I could find at my local Claire's. Unfortunately, all the many handmade hair sticks I bought save for those created by a single artist5 were poor quality and even poorer craftsmanship.

After blowing a lot of money on sticks that looked beautiful online but were so very disappointing once I received them, I finally decided that the only way I was going to be able to satisfy my obsession was to make my own. I wasn't particularly daunted by the idea, as I had previously worked repairing antique jewelry for a dealer and had been a textile artist for some years, which gave me a lot of experience with design and color theory not to mention the patience to work through problems that sometimes seemed insurmountable. I dove in, worked out the initial pitfalls through trial and error, and before too long I was wearing my own designs everywhere I went. Oddly enough, people started saying things to me like, "Those are gorgeous, you should sell them!" After hearing this eight or nine times it didn't take me too much longer to figure out that they were gorgeous and I should sell them. Thus, LongLocks HairSticks was born and less than a year later, near the end of 1999, I designed the very first version of the LongLocks HairSticks Boutique website.

I won't bore you with the details of the many things that have transpired between that first flicker of the light bulb fifteen years ago and today, but I do want to share with you what LongLocks means to me and what I intend for it to mean to those who wear my designs. Now that you know the history behind my obsession, I'm sure you understand how I feel about long hair in general; I love it on both sexes, every race, and at any age. I know how difficult it is to obtain and maintain, and most of all I understand how important it can be to the people who willingly go through what it takes to possess it. People with long hair are extraordinarily special in my book.
This passion for long hair and comraderie with those who choose to wear it is why my first priority is to make LongLocks HairSticks the most exceptional hair jewelry you can possibly own. Why every piece (with rare and always noted exception) is one-of-a-kind and never exactly duplicated; in fact, I have an archived photo record of every one of the thousands of entirely unique designs I have created (an unbelievable-even-to-me total of well over 10,000). Why every pair of LongLocks HairSticks always has been and always will be made by my hands. Why I will always use the most exceptional components in both beauty and quality that can be found. Why I spend hours making every design and refuse to compromise on the quality of my craftsmanship under any circumstances. Why the LongLocks HairSticks Boutique will never sell or recommend hair jewelry or products that are unsafe for your hair. And why I will continue to turn down opportunities put forth by companies in the salon industry that in accepting would require I compromise any part of the philosophy behind LongLocks HairSticks (though I do reserve the right to continue to be extremely flattered by such proposals).

I understand that my hair jewelry is not for everyone, and that's fine with me... I don't create my designs for everyone. My hair jewelry is crafted specifically for those who appreciate my jewelry as art, not simply as accessories used to hold your hair. Certainly there are many options for people who don't mind jewelry that is not one-of-a-kind, or even mass-produced for that matter. That's perfectly fine but these are not the people for whom I make my jewelry. LongLocks' clients truly appreciate the work that goes into a finely hand crafted item, know exceptional quality when they see it, and most of all appreciate that true art, no matter what its form, is never duplicated for the masses. I do not do this simply to make a living, I do this because I want everyone who owns my designs to feel as special as I know they are and to appreciate my art for what it is... fine art you can wear. And that will never change.

Susan Maxwell Schmidt
Jewelry Artist
LongLocks HairSticks Boutique

1 For those of you born within the last 30 years, Marlo Thomas played in a little TV show called "That Girl." She was the female idol of my generation even though she didn't have a steady job, had an incredibly geeky boyfriend, and had to constantly deal with an over-protective father. [return]
2 Twiggy was the first model to make the anorexic look chic. [return]
3 This is what I did look like. I'm sure Twiggy was terrified at the prospect of my bursting onto the scene. [return]
4 Helen Gurley Brown was god to women in the 70s and you did obey. [return]
5 Jill of Gray Dogwood (whom I believe has since retired). [return]
© Copyright 1999-2015 Susan Maxwell Schmidt, All Rights Reserved.